When you strike a matchstick, you get an instant and intense flame burst that dies out as quickly as it showed up. However, should you wish for the flame to continue burning, you use the lit matchstick to light a fire, fueled by an alternative energy source e.g., gas, firewood, etc. This fire could go on for an extended period of time. The matchstick flame in this context describes anaerobic training.
This form of training/exercise involves quick bursts of energy at maximum effort for a short time. The idea here is that a lot of energy is released within a small period of time with oxygen demand surpassing oxygen supply.
Think back to your last gym session. What activities did you do?
How long did each movement take? Are there activities that lasted as long as a “matchstick flame” and still left you gassed? Movements that result in this effect such as Weightlifting, Sprinting, Jumping, and High-Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) fall under the category of anaerobic training.
Because anaerobic training pushes your body and lungs to rely on energy sources stored in your muscles, many people may avoid it terming it hard. Lactic acid is also produced during this form of training, the culprit causing muscle fatigue and soreness.
Anaerobic training however comes with a whole lot of benefits and should be a staple for any athlete. Like resistance training, it can increase the strength and density of your bones, decreasing the risk of osteoporosis (bones becoming fragile and brittle) that tends to develop as an individual grows older, compounded by a sedentary lifestyle. Weight training (a variation of anaerobic training) promotes balance and good posture beneficial for your bones.
Building muscle is another product of anaerobic training. By building your muscle strength and muscle mass, you provide your joints with better protection, preventing injury occurrence. Muscle also helps in blood sugar and body fat management. Muscle burns about three times more calories which will create a significant shift in how you look. Knowing you look good adds to your confidence!
Anaerobic training also increases your overall power output, developing stronger, more resilient connective tissue (tendons, ligaments, etc.) and increases your lean muscle mass as a bonus.
This form of training can easily be incorporated into your fitness regime and accommodates all individuals irrespective of strength and fitness levels. For beginners, body weight movements are an ideal point to start. As you get stronger, progressively increase resistance to your movements.
Contrary to popular comparison to professional athletes, you do not need to be extreme to see progress/results. Start with what you have. The perception that this form of training MUST always leave you sore is also rather misguided. Remember, gains are made in recovery. In factoring this, your training program should therefore have a mix of heavy, moderate, and light days, active rest as well as absolute rest.
Movement is akin to making regular deposits into your quality-of-life savings account.
The more the deposit, the bigger the saving.
Watch this space as we unpack training combinations next time…
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MSA Physical Training Consultant